Featured Author: Kathryn Collins was a college student for 13 years, something that looked like a good idea at the time, but maybe not so much now. Born, raised, and living in the pacific northwest, Kathryn Collins inhabits a double-wide with 2 humans, 2 horses, 2 goldfish, 1 dog, 2 cats, 3 sheep, 4 chickens, 3 turkeys, about 15,000 honeybees… and an indeterminate number of raccoons, opossums, rats, and spiders. The place is kind of a mess.
Featured Author: Kathryn Collins Interview
- How long have you been writing?
- What/who inspired you to be a writer?
- What genre do you prefer to write in?
- Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?
- What is your daily routine as a writer?
- Are there any software tools, resources, or websites you use often while writing?
- What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?
- Do you have a set number of words each day or a goal?
- How much time is spent on “the business of writing” – queries, seeking an agent or publisher, marketing/sales?
- Do you prefer short stories or full-length novels in your writing?
- Can you give some us some insight into your story?
- What advice can you give other writers?
LHP: How long have you been writing?
Kathryn Collins: Like most modern writers, I’ve been writing since I was old enough to know that stories weren’t just consumed, but created. I’ve been focusing on written stories since I was in high school.
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LHP: What/who inspired you to be a writer?
Kathryn Collins: My biggest drive was my own mind. There are always stories that I’d love to see written and explored, and sometimes that means that I need to be the one to write them.
LHP: What genre do you prefer to write in?
Kathryn Collins: Honestly, I like to dabble in most genres. Some stories need different frameworks, and genres offer that. Of course, I keep returning to certain themes – fractured fairytales and the intersection of technology and self are two of my big ones, which means a lot of my stories tend to be speculative fiction of some sort.
LHP: Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?
Kathryn Collins: My process has gone through a lot of changes, and varies a lot depending on what format I’m writing. For poetry and essays, I usually have a few words, thoughts or ideas that I simply cannot let go. I let them ruminate for awhile and then they spring forth mostly finished. Novels I have to find the voice first. I write almost exclusively in first person and I might knock an idea or plot around for months or years waiting for the right voice to tell the story. Once I find the voice I can make a rough outline and move on from there. Short stories, well, I’m still working on that process. I’m also a persistent reviser, so I might revise a piece a hundred times before I’m happy with the final solution.
LHP: What is your daily/weekly routine as a writer?
Kathryn Collins: I really don’t have much of a routine right now. Working as a librarian on the side, writing generally just fills the spaces that it can. If I get too many ideas and not enough time to explore them, then I know it is time to take a writing vacation so that I can focus on writing for a week.
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LHP: Are there any software tools, resources, or websites you use often while writing?
Kathryn Collins: Not really. Wikipedia for research and ideas, but for longform and poetry I almost always write by hand, and for shortform I usually just use whatever document writer is on the nearest computer.
LHP: What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?
Kathryn Collins: Trying to write through mental illness, poverty and work requirements. Writing often has to take the back seat to surviving, and the fact that I’ve managed to keep writing is enough.
LHP: Do you have a set number of words per day you target? or do you set other goals to meet?
Kathryn Collins: I try to submit one piece to a publisher or agent every week (or one set of poems), which really drives everything else. Since I work a varying schedule, it is also a much more manageable goal since some weeks I only get a few minutes and others I have several hours to write. Still, I try to keep simultaneous submissions down to a minimum, which means that I still need to be producing content almost every week.
LHP: How much time is spent on “the business of writing” – queries, seeking an agent or publisher, marketing/sales?
Kathryn Collins: Honestly, I spend as little time as possible on anything that isn’t directly related to craft. Most of the time spent is either revising the queries and cover copy I’ve already written, or researching potential publishers and agents to find the right fit.
LHP: Do you prefer short stories or full length novels in your writing?
Kathryn Collins: I prefer novels, but they have the slowest burn on payout. I’ve got novels from nearly two decades ago that I’m still trying to get right and get published, whereas I might finish an essay within a month. Short stories are my Achilles heel. The balance between a story that isn’t too sparse or too detailed, that can be happy right at the middle point, that is the real challenge.
LHP: Can you give some us some insight into your story?
Kathryn Collins: I would hope that it would speak for itself. Surrealism is always interesting and engaging to me, and I love the way that short stories leave the edges of the world open for interpretation.
LHP: What advice can you give other writers?
Kathryn Collins: Revision, especially radical re-envisioning, is your friend. Finding a new lens for a finished work can feel herculean at times, but I’ve never felt anything quite so powerful as watching a story that felt complete blossom into something miraculous long after you thought it had said all you could say.
Kathryn Collins authored “Mama Bear” for Terrors Unimagined on sale now.
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